House of Commons Library

The Bellwin Scheme

Published Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Emergency financial assistance to local authorities in England is provided by the Bellwin Scheme. Normally this is provided following unusual weather events, though assistance can be available in other circumstances. The Bellwin Scheme operates in England, with similar provisions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This note outlines the workings of the scheme.

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The Bellwin scheme provides emergency financial assistance to local authorities in England. Such assistance is usually provided in response to an emergency caused by the weather, but relief may also be available in other circumstances. Substantial funding was provided under the scheme to compensate for the effects of the floods of late 2015 and early 2014. In recent years, the scheme has also been activated in respect of the explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot (2005), extensive flooding in Yorkshire, the Midlands, Cumbria and the North West during the 2000s, and for costs associated with the riots in the summer of 2011.

Bellwin funding is designed to recompense authorities for the costs of emergency measures undertaken to safeguard life or property, or to prevent further suffering and inconvenience locally, during exceptional circumstances. There are strict rules on the types of expenditure that are eligible for reimbursement.

This note describes how the scheme works, and includes examples of occasions when Bellwin funding has been used. It also refers to similar schemes in operation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Commons Briefing papers SN00643

Author: Mark Sandford

Topics: Flooding, Local government

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